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Steelers Offense Takes Massive Step in One Key Area vs. Rams



Steelers RB Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris, left, runs the ball as Los Angeles Rams cornerback Cobie Durant tries to tackle him during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Steelers’ offense showed signs of life in the second half against the Rams. They put together two sustained drives and then closed out the game with a drive that squeezed the last 3:03 out of the game clock. That’s not something they have done for most of the year, but what is even rarer for them was red zone success.

For most of the season, Pittsburgh’s offense did not touch the red zone. On the rare occasion they did, they did not score. In both touchdown percentage and red zone plays per game, the Steelers offense ranked dead last coming into Sunday’s matchup. But all of a sudden, against the Rams, they not only had a significant number of plays in the red zone, but they punched it into the end zone for three touchdowns.

Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris would each notch touchdowns. And against a team like the Rams with Sean McVay, it matters a lot to turn those scores into sevens. Threes are how you lose against guys like Matthew Stafford. Pittsburgh executed that part of their game plan, and Mike Tomlin knew it.

“I’m not partaking in that negative narrative that you outlined in the beginning of that question,” Tomlin said. “Red zone execution is significant. It’s good to run the ball into the end zone. I like the energy that they displayed. When you’re playing good people like Coach McVay and Matthew Stafford, field goals will get you beat and we understand that.”

The team found the end zone not once but thrice. And they found paydirt on each of those drives. The first was not their doing, but T.J. Watt on an interception. Then, on two straight drives, they would reach there. That’s not something they were doing at all before this game. They lived off the explosive play. When they got rare touchdowns, which did not come very often, either in the first five games, every single one came from an explosive play.

Against the Rams, they got some explosive plays while balancing out sustained drives in the second half. They have to build upon that, but it’s the first time that happened all season. For Pittsburgh, that should be a welcome sight. They are still not close to playing a full game of solid offense, but they need something to build towards that point. The win against the Rams could be that launching end.